As the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco shifts to the second race of the 2014 season, racers' ears perk up when just the location of race number-two on the year is mentioned.
Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in Tennessee has long been the proving grounds for short track racers across North America. The win list of Super Late Model events at the hallowed facility reads like a who's-who of short track racing. Its annual tradition, the All American 400, is widely known as one of the top short track events in the country.
But before a champion can be crowned in the season-ending All American 400 event in October, the Southern Super Series will make its first stop of the year in Nashville for a 125-lap event on Saturday, April 5.
One driver eagerly anticipating this event at Nashville is Texas' Casey Smith. Smith will enter Nashville on the momentum of setting fast time for the season-opening event, the 38th Annual Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway on March 22. While an ill-handling car prevented him from finishing where he started, Smith is looking to Nashville to get his No. 99 Port City Race Cars chassis, powered by McGunegill Engine Performance, racecar into Southern Super Series victory lane for the first time in his career.
"We had kind of been down with our efforts before the start of last season," explained Smith. "Winning track titles at San Antonio Speedway and Central Texas Speedway was really a momentum builder for us and that led into this season. The key was when we went out of town, we stayed successful and ran well That led to us wanting to run the Southern Super Series."
Smith led laps at the Rattler and overcame a spin to post a 10-place finish. It marked the fifth time in seven starts that Smith was inside the top 10 in a SSS event. The decision to race for the Southern Super Series championship in 2014 was an easy one for Smith with stats like that. Still, Smith is quick to point out that given the high level of SSS competition, challenging for the title will not be as easy.
"This is the most competitive Super Late Model Series in the country," said Smith. "I truly believe that. Most of these guys go north and have success moreso then when the north guys come south. When it's all said and done Nashville is the stage that normally settles it at the All American 400."
For Smith, the April 5 Southern Super Series race is a chance to build up notes before the season-ending All American 400 at Nashville.
"It's been a while since I ran in Nashville," said Smith. "It's not been my best track, but we know we can unload there and be solid. We got behind on tire information a few years ago and having the ability to test last year and race helped us get back on track. We want to run for the title, but we know it's going to be hard against the fields we race.
The 125-lap event is the first regular-distance race of the season for the Southern Super Series. Bubba Pollard is the defending winner of the race. There will be a practice day on Friday, April 4th. Further details on this event can be found on www.fairgroundspeedwaynashville.com or www.southernsuperseries.com.
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